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February 12, 2009

Genealogy and Family Hope Chest Step 3: Categorize!

Okay you have made a list of all your family treasures and heirlooms. You've taken photos of each one. You've added a description of each item. And you've started your own Show & Tell - showing each item to children, grandchildren or other family members and telling them the story behind it.

Step 3 of my plan to make sure family treasures are cherished, preserved and passed on, is to do some categorization. We need to categorize what type of heirlooms we have. We need to figure out HOW we are going to preserve and share our treasured items but each one has its own unique challenges to overcome.

Not every item can be shared and preserved in the same way. I have a method of sharing and preserving my family treasures which is unique to each category. I want to share these ideas with you in separate posts (one for each category).

It's important to get an idea of what you have, where it fits (what category) and then take steps to follow a unique plan for each category. In my plan there are 5 categories of items I want to share with other family, as well as pass down to future generations.

1. Family photographs. Are you the keeper of the family photos? I am, and I believe it's my responsibility to preserve and share these with other family members.

2. Original Paper Items such as documents, letters and journals. This does not mean photocopies! An original document is one that can't be found somewhere else. Once it is lost, it's gone forever. But a photocopy of an entry in a church register, for example, can be obtained by someone else at some point in time. So if you have great-grandpa's letters written to great-grandman, or grandma's daily journals, or your own journals, or Uncle Fred's Enlistment Papers for WW1, they would go in this category.

3. Objects such as jewellery, china, family silver, a book that belonged to an ancestor, any physical object goes into this category.

4. Memories & Stories. These are not tangible. These are the stories that Grandma told you about her childhood or her father. Your own memories count too. Your memory of your mother ironing while singing a song to you goes in this category. You've probably already figured out that these memories and stories need to be written down but I want to talk more about that in a separate blog post

5. Genealogy Research. Yes you are going to want to see your research preserved and I've got some ideas on how to make that happen.

For now, take a little time, check your list of treasured family items and see if you want to add anything to that list. Then start thinking about what categories things fit into. You might want to consider how you think you can best preserve and share those items, before my next blog post.

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